An Instagram sale is a fun way of destashing, and making a bit of pocket money, but involves a whole load of organisation. This is my ultimate guide to hosting a successful one without going insane. Follow these steps for a stress free sale.
1. Create a new Instagram Account for your Instagram Sale and Upload "Admin" Photos
Make sure you don't use your current account. I used @shopgreystash for mine. I spent far too long on the name, but it really doesn't matter. Don't worry about the name.
Profile Picture and Description
Give the account a profile picture and type up a description.
I included three photos at the end - Thank You, Postage, and Read Me. These were uploaded first since I had decided on three rounds of the sale, so it was good that these were at the end of the account. I left the postage blank until I had put everything together, and edited the description later. I also included a Round # photo once I had uploaded all the photos from the round.
The "read me" should include information:
- information about bidding / buying
- ask the buyer/bidder to include her email address to make your own life easier later on (and offer the option for her to DM it to you if she is concerned about sharing her email in public)
- optionally, you can ask the buyer/bidder to include her country so that you can work out shipping in advance
- any information that potential buyers would need to know before shopping
My Read Me included the following:
Round one and two have closed. Round three will be up 17-25 August.
Highest bid wins. Here are the rules:
Comment with a bid on the picture in USD and your email address (you only need to type it once, and feel free to DM or email it to me for privacy concerns). Your bid excludes shipping. Only bid in whole numbers. $0.50 bids will be deleted and ignored. You are welcome to pay in USD/EUR via PayPal or EUR through your bank.
Keep checking that no one has outbid you if you want the product.
I will announce the winners through tagging on the image. Then I will send you an email with the winning bids, asking for your postal address and method of payment. Then an invoice.
You must pay within 2 days, otherwise it goes to the next bid.
Everything has a starter bid. If no one bids on it, it will be sent to the mystery box winner for free.
I included the bit about $0.50 bids in the third round because I had a few people increasing the amount by 50 cents. This amount just wastes everyone's time (mine, the other bidders', the bidder herself). When I was living in South Africa, this was a decent amount of money (two chocolate's worth), but living in Europe now, this was worth less than even one chocolate.
2. Get Your Stuff Together
Figure out everything that you're going to be selling, and get it ready. If you have a free table, it would be great to keep it all there.
If you are doing a craft room sale, it's nice to put it into little kits. Put in a bit of time to give the potential buyers some added value instead of selling each sheet of alpha stickers. Instead of selling mine randomly, I made mini book kits and paired constant 6x4" paper with embellishments.
My process for this was as follows:
- Trim all large paper down to 6x4". Any other sizes went into a big box. This standard size made things far easier.
- Separate paper into colours, spread out on table to make it easier to see and pick.
- Make paper packs - I didn't have a set number of pieces for this. I chose my base, and looked for papers that went with it. Two of each style (sometimes three), with an average of 6-8 different designs. I didn't have a set amount. I did what felt right. Sometimes a bunch of paper felt right with six designs, sometimes it needed 15 designs.
- Spread embellishments out on table so that I could see as much as possible. I kept "special ones" in its own pile according to category (the confetti, tags, wooden and cork embellishments).
- Add embellishments to the paper packs. No rhyme or reason here. No minimum amount. I went with the flow. Usually I stayed within a colour family, using the paper as a guide. I used the same process that I use when I make my own mini books and choose paper and embellishments for that.
My process was simply to do it, paper by paper, embellishment by embellishment.
This process took me two weeks, with three to four hours per day (seriously!) but I wanted to make a kit that would make documenting something really easy. I didn't want my stash go into a pile for the recipient to later destash. In the end there were over 60 little kits. It was exhausting, but I absolutely loved it.
Everything that didn't make the kit was put into a big ass "mystery box".
3. Photograph Your Stuff and Pre-Package
I spread out my papers, and added my embellishments. I photographed it with my iPhone to make it easier. I put each kit in a plastic bag. Photographed that too (I didn't even have a reason for that except for how pretty it looked).
For my mystery box, initially it had a photo of the papers up close. That photo didn't go so well, and I had a lot of questions. Once it was a bit fuller, I took a photo of that, and it was a better image.
Be sure to get everything in the photo. Choose explanatory photos instead of fancy ones taken from a side angle. Photos straight on, with a white or neutral background are best. If you have further details, add an extra image or point people to a page on your blog. The former makes things difficult because even with a "DO NOT BID ON THIS ITEM, IT'S FOR SHOWING DETAILS ONLY" description, people still bid on those images of mine. The latter is difficult because no one went to view the page, even though I had it as a link in the account description.
4. Postage for your Instagram Sale
You need to work out postage in advance. At the very least, an estimate that is never below what you expect. Weigh your items. You can either post the shipping details in the description of every item, or make a separate image outlining the shipping details.
Personally, I think it is unethical to make a profit from shipping, and I set my postage amounts at the quoted amount from the post office + envelope cost. I purchased the bubble envelopes in bulk to keep the cost down.
My postage photo was simple and just said:
Shipping is sent with the Deutsche Post in a bubble envelope. Pricing is as follows: • Germany: $4 • Rest of the world: $8.
Domestic vs. International Shipping
Decide whether you want to ship only within your country, or internationally too. I decided to ship my smaller items anywhere, but my larger items were for my country only. I had a few inquiries about shipping the heavy items internationally, and I let them know the high price and if they wanted it for that price I'd send it.
If your items are easily combined, mention that this is an option. If you are able, work it out in advance otherwise mention that you'll be offering it. Since my round of kits all had semi-standard, I offered the shipping price for up to 8 kits. My country ships at a standard rate up to 500g, and since each kit was about 50g and would fit into an envelope suitable for that postage range, I set the limit at 8. Combined shipping encourages more shopping, and doesn't add costs for you. If it does add costs, then you shouldn't combine the shipping.
5. Decide Whether the Instagram Sale will be an Auction or a Simple Sale
This is a personal preference. All three rounds of mine were auctions because I didn't care how much it made, and I also had a "minimum" worth, but not an exact figure.
Auctions are great if you don't have a price in mind, but they do have the disadvantage that you might sell something way below its worth. For my first two rounds, I had an auction and had the minimum price of $1. I did not care about making money from it, I simply wanted everything out of my house and couldn't bare to throw it away. I ended up selling a $100 item for $30, but I really didn't mind. For the third round I made the starting bid at $5. I put a lot of work into each kit, and felt that I would be happy with $5.
Simple sales are finished quicker and with less fuss. You simply ask the potential buyer if she would be happy with the price you're happy with, and it's done. No waiting until a certain day, no one being sad about not winning a bid, etc.
I always kept my minimum bids low because the point was to get rid of it and I would be throwing it away otherwise. If you could still find value from keeping it, then I suggest giving it a price and being done with it.
6. Upload the Items
Add each item, along with a description. If you're having an auction, mention the starting bid (if any), otherwise mention the price for it. Include PayPal fees in your listing price. These are currently are 2.4% to 3.4% + $0.30 per incoming payment. I didn't work this out too precisely because for me it was negligible, but do keep it in mind.
I used copy and paste for each item.
Be sure to include details that the image does not include. If your items have anything wrong with them, it is of utmost importance that you mention it. I sold two albums that had slight sticker residue, and I was certain to include that in the listing, as well as mention that I'd be including metal labels (at no charge) to cover them up.
7. Share the Instagram Sale
The best place to share an instasale is on Instagram. Make sure people know about it. Update your personal Instagram followers when there is a day left of bidding, but try not to overwhelm your own feed because most people are not following you for your Instasale. If you do not have a lot of followers, you could create a giveaway focused on sharing an image to encourage people to visit the account and shop.
8. Hold the Instagram Sale
Let people bid/buy. Answer any questions. Update your rules or descriptions as needed.
9. Close the Instagram Sale
Yay! Congrats on completing your Instasale! For a simple sale, you can do this once each item has been sold, otherwise for an auction you can do this after the time you have decided the auction is over.
Comment on each and every photo that the bidding is now closed. If the item has been sold, tag the buyer/bid winner. If you'd like, mention how much the item went for in your comment. Get this information down as quickly as possible. Click on the three lines at the top of your profile so that you can scroll instead of clicking on every single image. Screenshot every image, or write the information down in a table. I had 70 items, and so I screenshot everything, then made a table in Evernote. You can use whatever you'd like for this, but this system works incredibly well for me.
My table included the person's email address, their winning bids, and three check boxes to see which step of the process I was at (first email communication, PayPal Request for Money sent, and Paid). I didn't include which products each person had won since they were all so different, so I just wrote the amounts. If they ordered something that wasn't a kit (the mystery box, the washi tape), I made a brief note of it. It's not a pretty table, it just has all the information. I also didn't worry about putting it into the correct notebook since it was temporary (it went into my default German Reference notebook, whoops).
10. Send Out Emails
Email each bid winner/buyer immediately after closing the sale.
If you couldn't find an email address from someone, post a comment asking them for it. If that person has not replied within a given amount of time, ask the next person in the bid or reopen the item for sale.
Even if you use a standard email, DO NOT Bcc it to everyone. Start a unique email with each person. It takes longer, but believe me, it's far easier for processing, and will save you time once the replies start coming in. Change the subject in each email! This ensures that each person receives her own email thread.
I used a standard email to each winner. In it, I...
- included the person's email address in the subject line
- mentioned that they had won
- mentioned what they had won (to simplify I didn't state which kit, but I did mention if they had won a non-kit item)
- linked the shipping details to the Instagram photo
- gave the amount on its own line - if I knew whether they lived in my country or not I included the shipping, otherwise I mentioned that it excluded shipping
- asked for their postal address
- asked for their PayPal address (since it's not always the same email address)
- offered to receive payment through bank transfer
- included information about when I would be shipping, and an estimate of travel time (mine was based off of the post office's numbers; since German post is reliable, I was okay with this, otherwise I would not have included it)
- outlined the benefit to replying quickly (that the stuff would be shipping the next day)
Once each email has sent, I tick my "Email" box in my table.
11. Process Returned Emails
Once a bidder/buyer has replied to your email with her postal address and PayPal address, I take that as the fact that she's happy with everything.
- Add the postal address to the table
- Reply to her email, thank her, and let her know that she can expect a PayPal Request for Money within the next few minutes (and to let you know if she doesn't). Answer any questions she has, and generally be a nice human.
- Send the PayPal Request for money and tick the "Invoice" box in my Evernote table.
- File the processed email into a Gmail folder labeled "Invoiced".
- Once payment has been made, tick the box and move the email to a folder labeled "Paid".
12. Send a PayPal Request for Money
Feel free to enter a message, or leave it blank. For this round, I put in a message.
If you look at your PayPal transactions, you can see underneath Payment Status which requests are Pending, and which are Completed. PayPal also has the option to Remind a pending order.
13. Put Together the Packages
- I wrote out each address onto a bubble envelope, made a note of how many kits (or what) each had ordered with a postage note. I stuck my address label to the back.
- I then went through my screenshots, and added each kit next to the appropriate envelope. One by one. Bit by bit of the elephant.
- I used the number total to see if each person had the right amount of kits. This was my only way of double checking, and because of this, I made sure I took my time going through each kit.
- I crossed off each person's name in my original Evernote table with a highlighter.
If you had only one item per buyer, there's an easier way of doing thing, but this worked for my numbers and products.
Be sure to include a little note saying thanks, and a small something extra if you'd like.
14. Post Everything
Go to the post office and send those babies off to their new moms! Some people will email and thank you once they've received it, but most people will not. You can follow up if you'd like.
Since I'm in a new country, I prefer going to the actual post office to deliver, but if you can, do this bit online or make it simpler.
Store everything together
I kept mine on one of my bookshelves, away from everything else, but still out in the open so I was aware of them.
Have a mystery box
My mystery box had WAY more stuff than each of my kits, and was totally understated in the auction. But it didn't include the ease like the other kits did.
Buy your shipping supplies in bulk and before the shop closes
I didn't look around too much for this. I simply used Amazon. Make sure that your supplies are ready so that you can ship as soon as possible after the auction / sale has ended.
Make return address labels
These were done simply and quickly, just so that the post office had something to send anything that didn't work out. You can also use these for shipping labels to the person you're sending to. I prefer to write by hand.
- @scatteredconfettisale made consistent photos for her admin pictures
- @dearletters_flohmarkt made her instasale private to ward off creepers
- @bckueser_shopmystash included a giveaway in hers
- @shopandrea wrote out her information and shared it as a picture
- @elisejoyshop made mini collages for hers to include photos of details
- @shopelsiescloset keeps hers open and adds to it over time
This was a pretty exhaustive guide, but if you have any questions, I'm here to answer. Have you had an Instasale or purchased something from one before? What did you learn? What would your number one tip be?